Despite losing 3 straight games against Adamson, FEU and Ateneo, the UST Growling Tigers immediately redeemed themselves by beating the very positive UP Fighting Maroons who were fresh from their victory against the Final 4 favorite FEU. The Tigers took hold of the driver seat right from the get go, en-route to establishing a 68-49 final score. As a result of this huge victory, the Tigers are now tied with DLSU in the 4th spot of the team standings with a 3-3 win-loss record while UP stays in the 5th spot with a 2-5 win-loss record. On Thursday, UST will have a rare chance to solidify their hold on the 4th spot when they go up against DLSU at 3 p.m..
In UST's win against UP last Sunday, their new go-to-guy, Jeric Fortuna once again showed up. He had 16 big points, 9 huge rebounds and 2 nice assists. He's showing to the UAAP fans that he is one of the best point guards in the league today. He's a steady point guard who can pass the ball well and who can also score. I wanna label him as a scoring point guard because of his fine shooting from beyond the arc. His shooting was the primary reason why UST was able to build a huge cushion against UP. Fortuna also had to step up big time in this game because his partner, Jeric Teng suffered an injury in the latter part part of the 1st quarter that prevented him from coming back into the game.
Take a look at the scoring by quarters, 16-12, 25-17, 45-29, 68-49. That's how the Jeric Fortuna led UST Tigers dominated the UP Fighting Maroons.
With Fortuna's performance against UP, no one can deny that he's the leader of the UST Tigers this year. Coach Pido himself admits that Fortuna is the key in their success this season. He said that:
"Wala akong masabi sa leader ko. Siya (Jeric) ang pundasyon ng team na ito. Kung maganda ang takbo niya, maganda rin ang takbo ng team."
The secondary reason why UST won against UP was because of the latter's poor offensive execution and poor shooting from beyond the arc. Their outside sniper, Mike Silungan wasn't able to cash-in his usual double digit scoring output. He only had 8 points in this game. Some people now say that when he's off, UP's 3-point shooting is also off. In fact, they only made 2 out of 25 3-points attempts. Also, no player on the Maroons' side scored in double figures. UST was able to hold them down. That's an ugly shooting clip for the Fighting Maroons. But fortunately, the lead of UST didn't went as high as 30 points because UP's slasher and hustle player, Gelo Montecastro, a transferee from the College of St. Benilde Blazers, slashed his way against the giant trees of UST. Gelo was able to score 9 crucial points.
And oh, I forgot to note, UP was also out rebounded by UST, 33-58 that's why they lost in this game. Coach Pido's new style of fielding in Kent Lao before Karim Abdul proved to be the turning point of this game. With his new player rotation, he was able to neutralize the aggressiveness of Mbah in this game.
Here are the scores courtesy of UAAPSPORTS.STUDIO23.
UST (68) - Fortuna 16, Afuang 13, Abdul 8, Camus 8, Teng 7, Sheriff 5, Ferrer 5, Lo 4, Pe 2, Vigil 0, Tan 0, Lao 0
UP (49) - Montecastro 9, Silungan 8, Mbah 7, Maniego 6, Manuel 5, Romero 4, Gamboa 4, Wong 2, Fortu 2, Gomez 2, Juruena 0, Pascual 0
Quarters: 16-12, 25-17, 45-29, 68-49